30th Street vs Suburban Station

The difference between these two stations over the past 30 to 40 years tells what’s true of most Americans metropolitan areas.    All sections of a city don’t move forward.  When one area improves another goes downhill.

In the 70’s and early 80s, Suburban Station, the underground portion of both SEPTA and Amtrak, was busy almost 24/7.   People could walk all the way to 13th and Market or South to Broad and Locust.  The Grog Shop, a restaurant with dancing, was open until 2am.   Schrafft’s Restaurant was open beginning at lunch and closed at 9:00.  An ice staking rink was a downsized version of the one in Rockefeller Center.  People came in from all over the Tri-State Area to bowl at the Penn Center.  There was a barber shop bordering on the now demolished Sheraton Hotel.  A book store and a cocktail lounge kept commuters occupied while they waited for trains.

30th Station was busy but underutilized.  Amtrak walled off almost a third of the station. There was one bar, a fast food chain, and three or four small shops.  After 6:30, the crowd thinned out.  By 8,  there were only inter-city travelers.  Especially on weekends,  30th Street had that echo indicating not many people.  I felt Philadelphia, unlike New York,  was wasting a valuable resource.

So now things have reversed.  Suburban Station, at least when I last saw it,  had only commuter traffic and  nothing else.  All the shops and entertainment areas are gone. 30th Street has reached its full potential. The entire building is open and occupied.  There are restaurants and shops throughout the station.  The place stays busy until midnight.  Now I hope the Philadelphia takes a steps in redevelopment of the Market Street West area.

Any updates greatly appreciated.   Deja vu. It seems like one business thrives at the expense of another.


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